• Welcome to AlpineZone, the largest online community of skiers and snowboarders in the Northeast!

    You may have to REGISTER before you can post. Registering is FREE, gets rid of the majority of advertisements, and lets you participate in giveaways and other AlpineZone events!

North and South Hancock - 7/29/2008


New member
May 23, 2006
Sunapee, NH & Burlington, VT
Date Hiked: 7/29/2008

Trail(s) Hiked: Hancock Notch Trail, Cedar Brook Trail, Hancock Loop Trail

Hike Number: 8

Total Distance Traveled: 9.8 Miles on trail (10 Miles with added detours and getting lost)

Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

Conditions: Good

Special Equipment Required: None

Trip Report: After running the chairlift at my home stomping grounds for skyrides for the weekend, I determined that one of my two days off during the week would be best spent hiking the Whites. Remembering my last strenuous hike up Flume and Liberty I was looking for something that was similar to it in nature. I had also done the Flume and Liberty hike as a toss up for this one so summiting these two mountains seemed as if it was the best thing to do.

Arriving at the trailhead at the hairpin turn there were hardly any cars in the parking lot, and of the few that were there about half appeared to be people just stopping to see the view. Around 9am I found myself heading down the short path to the road and beginning my trek to the Hancocks. Remembering that the guide books and numerous TRs I have read on this hike I new that the first 2 miles or so was going to go pretty fast, and it did. I was amazed at how easy going the first 1.8 mile leg of the trip was on the Hancock Notch Trail. A nice very well trod path through the woods with minor ups and downs here and there, made for a quick but scenic walk through the woods.

Hitting the junction of the Cedar Brook and Hancock Notch Trails I pulled out my poles and began heading on the second leg of the trip. This very scenic, and much rougher trail seemed a lot shorter than it really was (at least on the way back that is). Arriving at the first brook crossing is where I began to get lost. Looking across the brook I found that the path didn't seem as well trod as the herd paths heading next to the bank on my side of the brook, so I headed up the herd path to attempt to see where the trail went to next. Shortly thereafter I found myself in more of a bushwhack than following a herd path. Slightly frustrated I back tracked a little and attempted to find the trail again, with no luck. Further back tracking I went back to the last known blaze that I had seen and crossed the brook there. Feeling a little better that I was back on the trail, I walked only another 50 feet and realized that the trail just recrossed the brook again. At this point I decided to smarten up a little bit, and I pulled out my map to find that the trail crosses the brook about 3 more times and ends up on the side that I'm already on. Bushwhack ensuing I managed to re-find the trail again after it's third crossing and continue on to the junction with the Hancock Loop Trail.

I was beginning to wonder what the rest of this was going to be like if I was having this much trouble staying on the trail so far. Luckily the Hancock Loop Trail was a lot easier to follow and a much nicer moderate hoof through the woods. Making good time I made the loop junction in about 35 minutes and was ascending North Hancock shortly after. Not really knowing which was going to be the better mountain to head up and down I chose ascending North first as the trail was longer and I wanted to get the longer ascent out of the way and take advantage of a nice short descent down South. Ascending at a moderate to steep grade the whole way up I found that there was fantastic footing and stopping only a few times for a breather I made it to the top right about lunch time.

Views from the overlook near the top were fantastic. With my limited knowledge of the peaks around me I could easily pick out the Osceolas and Loon Mountain as well as the back side of the Franconia Range. Basking in the sunshine with the overlook all to myself, there was a cool feeling of serenity on this ledge, despite not being all that far out into the wilderness. After a nice 20 minute sit on North Hancock's overlook I regrouped and began the trek over the Ridge link to South Hancock to conquer my 14th 4000'er. Moving along at a good pace I found that the Ridge link has to be one of the prettiest trails I've ever hiked (if you can really consider a trail to be pretty). It was the epitome of a quiet pathway through the woods, snaking it's way from North Hancock to South Hancock. The only significant obstacles I found on this sweet connector were a boulder that the trail goes over as well as a massive mud hole about 0.9 to 1.0 miles from North Hancock.

South Hancock wasn't nearly as scenic as North was. The overlook wasn't really anything to write home to mom about either. Stopping briefly to talk to two guys eating lunch on the summit I checked out the overlook, with a direct view toward Chocorua and then began my descent. This trail seemed like it was steeper than North Hancock, but it may have been more because of the erosion than anything else. The trail wasn't in too bad of shape, but North was definitely a nicer hike. Getting back to the loop junction I deployed the iPod with a collection of Muse and Moe. and made my way back to the trailhead. This time I was able to follow the Cedar Brook trail a lot better knowing a little more about where the trail first hits the water and where it leaves it.

Overall I thought this was a fun hike, to definitely be done again in the future. My overall time was about 5.75 hours excluding the 20 minute stop at North Hancock and 10 minute stop at South.

Pictures to follow.



Hancock Notch Trail following the railroad grade

Looking down the North Link on the Hancock Loop Trail

View toward the Osceolas (I think)

Yours truly posing for the good ol' MarcHowes shot on North Hancock

The really cool Ridge Link on the Hancock Loop Trail
Last edited:


Staff member
Jun 4, 2004
NEK by Birth; Alta/Snowbird by Choice
The Hancocks are a nice hike. It is not as bad as it may seem....like Garfield, it is a long approach, but not a bad hike. The views from North are better than advertised IMHO. No crowds at all. I agree with the comments about the confusing stream crossings....

Mike P.

Jul 1, 2001
Nice TR & good thinking, when in doubt, pull the map out.

The bushwhack gets more winter & spring time use so in the summer usually it's seldom used but water levels thjis year have been higher so more people have tried to skip the first crossing which is the hardest & has the fastest current when it's high.

I liek the view from North, mostly becaause it provides a great view of the slides on Osceola (the lot view is nice too but you share that with the auto tourists). I like the little views from South (not as much) as it provides a back view of Carrigain & if I remember correctly, the seldom seen or hiked Captain.